So I get this email from this dude called freesoulJAH. He’s encouraging me to check out his 2007 release, Light Headed. Now I also put an album out in 2007, myself, and as far as the music reviewing business goes, that shit is dead. However, I can’t really resist mentioning this release for a couple reasons. First of all, you can download the whole thing, which is always a treat, no matter what it is. Second, I’m so conflicted on this release that it earns this strange categorization of being in both “Bad Music” and “Good Music.”
freesoulJAH signed his email to me, “with peace.” He doesn’t seem to be the kind of guy that seeks conflict, and maybe he’s trying to get on my good side in advance. I don’t know, but he doesn’t seem to be the kind of guy that deserves to have his feelings hurt either (unlike Buckcherry or Asher Roth). So though my case about this album could perhaps be more effectively made by presenting the evidence of “good music” before that of “bad music,” I’m going to cover the bad of it first. All in all, it’s because I’d rather freesoulJAH smoked his dope, read this review and came away saying, “Okay..that’s cool…that’s fair.” You know…instead of saying, “Those be some negative vibes, mon!”
I’ve got to poke a little fun at the guy though.
So okay. Bad news first. freesoulJAH initially comes across as a ridiculous stereotype and I cannot, in good conscious, argue otherwise. A visit to his website reveals a dread headed white Rastafarian looking dude. (“What does being white have to do with it, mon? Why you be such a racist? Jah’s love is for everyone!” Right?) His site decor is apparently fashioned in the colors of Ghana or the Congo, most likely. Maybe Bolivia, but I doubt it because Bolivia isn’t a very cool place to most enlightened Rasta homies.
“It takes a lot for me to really like modern reggae music,” I think to myself as I shake my head in a complete lack of faith in freesoulJAH. Then I read the titles to his music. Suddenly, a thought hits me…
“What is this crap?”
Here are but a small sample of song titles that make me sigh, roll my eyes and swear off weed forever so that I don’t ever act like this: “Peace to the People,” “Can You Feel My Love,” “Love Your Brother,” “Singing to the Birds” and the list goes on and on. (Those are just my favorite…to make fun of.) Alright! Peace and happiness and love and blah blah blah. That’s all fine and well, but can’t it be a little more poetic? A little more obscured? Of course love your brother. Of course peace to the people. Anyone that gives this album half a chance after looking at the album cover sure as shit isn’t hoping to meditate on Slayer.
What the fuck, freesoulJAH?
Okay. Then I gave this heaping pile of Jamaican wannabe shit a listen and was amazed to learn that it’s not actually a heaping pile of Jamaican wannabe shit! It’s just immensely misrepresented. Hence we move into that which makes this good music.
freesoulJAH is not another fly by night dumbass Rasta wanker and this is not a reggae album. Though everything this guy advertises is contradictory to what he actually does, he deserves some credit for throwing it back to a movement that everyone respects but few people attempt (or attempt well), the beat generation. On closer inspection, there is evidence that freesoulJAH may even be aware that this is his true niche, as he does have a song called “Next Beat Generation” tucked away among those other, more sterile titles.
Granted, his lyrics are still not all that prolific. Some of them are pretty much just the song titles repeated over and over again. Yet, I can forgive this because freesoulJAH is getting high and making shit. It’s minimal. It’s rough. It’s beat poetry…for better or for worse. That I can respect.
You listen to all this shit on the radio and you hear cookie cutter bullshit, formed to spec for the purposes of making more money and feeding more cocaine to superficial music executives. Focus groups and demographics testing can tell you that the beat in the new Miley Cyrus “song” should include a different kind of snare because children under the age of 14 will like it better. Then some guy gets in there with a computer and makes the change to make Billy Ray’s daughter a corporately constructed, achy breaky star.
Fuck all that.
I imagine freesoulJAH’s process to be something like this: He plugs his guitar and a mic in his 8 track, hits his bong a few times, then lays it the fuck down. It’s great to him because he’s stoned and his overdubs make it better. Then other people also like it because they are stoned, which is a much better reason than liking something because everyone else likes it, or because the sound is like everything else you listen to.
As for me, I’m not stoned, and I can still hang with this. Not repeatedly, mind you. Not at a party. Not in my car with a girl. But late at night, as the evening winds down and the politics of the day resonate around, it’s listenable because it’s real.
You’re a quirky dude, freesoulJAH (and “State of the Union 2007″ is, like, uhhh yeah…) but as far as I’m concerned, you’re still in the cool club. Sorry for the negative vibes, mon.
Download freesoulJAH’s beatnik bullshit here. (Then burn it to a CD-R, write “New Unreleased Hannah Montana Album” on the front with a Sharpie, and give it to the nearest 12 year old girl.)